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ADA claims on the rise

Employers have long suspected that ADA lawsuits have been steadily increasing. Now there’s new research confirming it.

The total number of ADA lawsuits filed in federal court in 2012 was up 12 percent from the number of lawsuits filed the previous year, according to a report from Syracuse University’s Traditional Records Access Clearinghouse.

These numbers jumped significantly when you look back a little further. According to the report, ADA lawsuits are up nearly 90 percent from the number filed just five years ago.

The report also broke down the places where the most ADA lawsuits took place (measured per capita in those judicial districts).

Here are the top 10 cities for ADA suits:

  • Tulsa (OK)
  • Pensacola (FL)
  • Manhattan
  • Chicago
  • Cheyenne (WY)
  • Nashville
  • Columbia (SC)
  • Las Vegas
  • Oxford (MS), and
  • Philadelphia.

The expanded definition of “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 was a major driver of the increased ADA claims.

Recent actions by the American Psychiatric Association could expand that definition even further. The APA recently published the fifth version of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — known as DSM-5.

This was the APA’s first major revision since 1994, and it includes a number of new diagnoses for mental disorders — disorders many employers probably aren’t aware of — including hoarding, skin-picking and other impulse-related disorders.

Employers may be required to provide a reasonable accommodation for any of these conditions if they’re found to substantially limit a major life activity. So it’s critical for employers to engage in the “interactive process” for every single accommodation request that comes their way.

About the Author


Will Temby

Will has enjoyed a 20-year career in leadership positions in the hospitality and travel industry throughout the U.S. with the Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton, Renaissance and Steamboat Ski and Resort corporations. Will received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2000-2007, he served as President and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Vice President-Special Projects for the University of Colorado Foundation from 2007 to 2009. Will is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Homeland Defense Foundation and former member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He is married to Nan, has five wonderful children, and enjoys coaching, traveling, hiking, golfing and skiing.

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